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Uruguay

Main attractions

Casapueblo, Uruguay
Casapueblo, Uruguay / Ana Raquel S. Hernandes, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

If compared to the landscape of other South American countries, Uruguay is calm, idyllic and refreshing. Country is not that rich with breathtaking natural landmarks, but this is compensated with diverse man made heritage. Highlights of Uruguay are:

  • Interesting and often - eccentric modern architecture. Casapueblo, Cristo Obrero Church, Palacio Salvo, Puente de la Barra - these buildings are daring and unusual. People in Uruguay have been not shy to test something new and different.
  • Archaeological heritage. Archaeological monuments in Uruguay are not visually impressive - but their research might change the way we look on the past of South America. Last decade has brought new discoveries and now it seems to be possible that several thousand years ago here developed ancient agricultural societies.

Natural landmarks

Caves

  • Gruta de Colón (Araicaihuita) - Lavalleja. 57 m long cave, a habitat for bats.
  • Gruta de la Salamanca - Rocha. 33 m deep and 33 m wide cave in Cretaceous tuffa.

Ecosystems

  • Monte de Ombúes - Rocha. Possibly the largest and most spectacular forest of the unique ombú tree (Phitolacca dioica L.) - herb of tree like form, reaching circumference of 15 metres. For most part ombú is solitary tree, but here it forms 20 km² large stand.
  • Monte de Ombúes, Arequita (Sendero de los Ombues) – Lavalleja. Forest of ombú trees (Phitolacca dioica L.) at the western part of steep cliff – Cerro Arequita.
Quebrada de los Cuervos, Uruguay
Quebrada de los Cuervos / Psiblastaeban, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Other natural landmarks

  • Quebrada de los Cuervos – Treinta y Tres. A unique landscape for the country – the largest river valley in the country. At the bottom of valley is subtropical climate, here grows lush, diverse vegetation.
  • Salto del Penitente - Lavalleja. More than 60 m tall waterfall. Water here slides down along a steep cliff face.
  • Timbó in Villa Soriano - Soriano. This enormous Pacara Earpod tree (Enterolobium contortisiliquum) reportedly is the largest tree in Uruguay. Crown diameter - 40 m and trunk diameter - 3 m.
  • Vizcaino Creek fossil bed - Canelones. Rich find of 29,000 years old fossils. Contains thousands of bones of glyptodonts, sloths and toxodonts in excellent state of preservation. Found possible stone utensils and scratches in the bones which may have been left by humans - thus hinting at possibility that humans came to Americas much earlier than it was thought before.

Man made landmarks

Archaeological monuments

  • Chamangá pictographs – Flores. A group of 38 sites with Guarani pictographs scattered over an area of some 120 km². These drawings of geometric figures are made on large granite boulders approximately in the 13th century AD.
  • Los Ajos - Rocha. A prehistoric village - complex system of mounds, built around 1000 - 500 BC. This archaeological monument testifies that in the past in this area of South America developed indigenous agricultural society.
  • Valle del Hilo de la Vida - Lavalleja. Valley with some hundred enigmatic, cone shaped, up to 3 m tall stone towers. It is not known when and why these structures were built.
Iglesia Matriz, Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay
Iglesia Matriz, Colonia del Sacramento / Óscar, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Churches

  • Basilica Cerrito de la Victoria - Montevideo. Ornate church building, built in 1849.
  • Catedral Metropolitana de Montevideo - Montevideo. Enormous and ornate cathedral in Neo-Classical style, built in 1790 - 1804.
  • Cristo Obrero Church (Church of Christ the Worker) – Atlántida in Canelones. Unique modernist church, built in 1958 – 1960 after the design of Eladio Dieste. Church is built of single shelled brick, with undulating walls.
  • Iglesia Matriz – Colonia, Colonia del Sacramento. The oldest church in Uruguay, built in 1695 – 1699. Simple whitewashed building with two towers.
Palacio Legislativo, Montevideo
Palacio Legislativo, Montevideo / Shant, Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Government buildings

  • Casa Central del Banco República - Montevideo. Impressive bank building in Neo-Classicism style. Constructed in 1938.
  • Palacio Legislativo – Montevideo. The Uruguayan parliament building, built in 1904 – 1925. Enormous Neo-Classical structure with interesting architecture, ornate interior.
  • Palacio Taranco - Montevideo. Ornate government building, constructed in the early 20th century. The ornate building contains the Museum of Decorative Arts.

Monuments

  • Artigas Mausoleum – Montevideo. Monument to José Gervasio Artiga – a national hero of Uruguay.
  • Monumento al Ahogado - Maldonado. Monument - warning to the people drowned in the sea. Represents a giant hand, with fingers sticking out of the beach sand. Made in 1982.
Freedom in Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
Freedom in Cabo Polonio / iAudioguide, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Urban planning monuments

  • Cabo Polonio - Rocha. Interesting, isolated historical village, located at the sea behind an enormous sand dune. Village consists of few hundred wooden buildings.
  • Colonia del Sacramento Old Town – Colonia. The oldest city in Uruguay, established in 1680. There have been preserved many old buildings and cobblestoned streets of this Portuguese built city and this seaside city looks very romantic.

Fortifications

  • Fortaleza de Santa Teresa - Rocha. Well preserved military fortification. Built by Portuguese in 1762 in a form of enormous pentagon.
  • Fuerte San Miguel - Rocha. Well preserved fort, built by Portuguese in 1737 and rebuilt in 1933.
Palacio Salvo, Montevideo
Palacio Salvo, Montevideo / Leandro Neumann Ciuffo, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Casapueblo – Maldonado. Enormous private house – sculpture of artist Carlos Páez Vilaró. The white colored house is built since 1960 and now resembles a fantastic fairytale palace.
  • Castillo de Piria - Maldonado. Private residence in Neo-Gothic style, built in 1897. Resembles a fortified castle. Built by Francisco Piria, who developed Piriapolis as his private town.
  • Edificio Lapido - Montevideo. A skyscraper in Functionalist style, built in 1933.
  • El Águila - Canelones. A private house of Natalio Michelizzi, built in 1945 in a form of eagle's head.
  • Museo Torres García - Montevideo. Art museum in seven floors high Art Noveau building. Centrepiece of exposition is a collection of cubist paintings by Joaquin Torres García.
  • Palacio Salvo - Montevideo. Iconic building - a skyscraper in original Art Deco style. Constructed in 1925 - 1928, 100 m high, 27 floors.
  • Posta del Chuy - Cerro Largo. Historical inn, built in 1855 from solid stone. Untypical historical buildings for this region.
  • Puente de la Barra - Maldonado. Road bridge of highly unusual design, built in 1965.

List of described attractions by provinces

Uruguay is divided into 19 provinces:

Artigas
Canelones
Cerro Largo
Colonia
ArrowColonia del Sacramento Old TownCities and towns
Durazno
Flores
Florida
Lavalleja
Maldonado
Montevideo
Paysandú
Río Negro
Rivera
Rocha
Salto
San José
Soriano
Tacuarembó
Treinta y Tres

Map of Uruguay

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